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Turkey FM accuses Washington Post of terror propaganda over PKK article

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (Photo by AFP)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has censured major American daily newspaper The Washington Post for promoting "terrorist propaganda," after it published an article penned by a founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

“The article did not fall under the freedom of press and expression. It is a terrorist propaganda,” Cavusoglu said in a live interview with Turkish-language TRT Haber television news network on Thursday. 

The remarks came a day after Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the American newspaper for publishing the article.

“With this publication, the principle of preventing the promotion of terrorism, the most important commitment of the international community in the fight against terrorism, has been seriously violated,” the ministry said in a statement, calling Cemil Bayik the ringleader of a terrorist organization that has “brutally massacred tens of thousands of innocent people.”

“It is essential that no distinction be made between terrorist organizations in the fight against terrorism.

"This approach, which is a tool for the PKK's terror propaganda and is incompatible with the sensitivity displayed with Daesh, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, is a new and grave example of hypocrisy in the fight against terrorism,” the statement pointed out.

In his article, Bayik wrote that numerous efforts by the PKK to negotiate in good faith with the Turkish government have failed due to the short-sighted political calculations and lack of commitment on the part of the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Cemil Bayik, a founder of the Kurdish PKK militant group (file photo)

Bayik added that the arrest and imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan coincided with the rise to power of the AK Party led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

“Erdogan and his party won early public support by emphasizing democracy, human rights and justice,” but the Turkish leader later denied the existence of the Kurdish problem, the senior PKK leader noted, accusing Turkey’s strongman of scrapping peace talks for political gains. 

The PKK is not naive enough to maintain that the Kurdish question can be solved through dialogue with Turkey’s ruling AKP alone, Bayik said, adding that the Kurdish militant group remains committed to a political solution of the Kurdish question within Turkish borders.

Öcalan remains the lead negotiator of the PKK, he underlined, and called for the transfer of the PKK leader from a prison on Imrali Island off Istanbul to a safe house.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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